3D printing makes it incredibly easy to crank out new parts on a whim.
For example, I'm about to make the trek to California for RoboGames and want to use a Contour ROAM2 HD action camera to capture some of the action - especially ComBots with the massive steel robots trying to inflict mortal damage on each other. I have the camera and have access to all areas of the venue. What I don't have is three hands. I always carry my Canon 5D Mark II for the still images and some video, and I have a light Nikon bridge camera for competition videos. The challenge was to find some way to operate the Contour that was basically hands-free.
After considering, and disqualifying, several approaches, I finally decided to use my bicycle helmet. I tried the stock Contour helmet mounts, but didn't like the way they felt - primarily because the camera sticks off to one side and is heavy enough that it is noticeable, and irritating.
It only took a few minutes to take some measurements of the top of my helmet and design a short plug to slip inside one of the air vents. Printing a test part to check the fit took a bit longer, of course.
Surprisingly enough, the test part fit perfectly without any modifications. The next step is to add the top flange for the camera. The mount is a snug fit, so I plan on securing it with some tape or velcro because I want it to be easily removable.
We'll see how it works this coming weekend when it is put into real use at RoboGames 2013.
I'm not sure what Andrew Mazzotta does for a living, but I do know that he has a boatload of 3D printers and is racking up numerous hours testing and evaluating them, which is all to the good.
This week he compares the Makerbot Replicator to the Lulzbot AO-100, and throws in a few comments about the Uprint SE Plus for good measure. It's not a rigorous, detailed evaluation, but is quite valuable since it's based on his actual experience as a user of all three printers.
When you're printing plastic it's really easy to quickly end up with lots of small bits and pieces of stray plastic all over the place. This is especially true in the bed area where you're extruding plastic, getting stringers (hopefully not too many or too often), etc.
Normally they don't cause any problems and are more of a nuisance that a hazard. But there are exceptions, as I found out a few weeks ago. My printer had been operating quite consistently and without any major problems, to the point that I developed enough confidence to leave it running printing a large part overnight.
I had a wonderful afternoon visiting Makerbot Industries in Brooklyn.
This was my fifth visit over the past two and a half years. Every time the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity seems to have been cranked up by at least another order of magnitude.
Sublime (Brad) at Tantillus.org printed a fully functional hobby lathe using PLA plastic capable of cutting metal parts. Each of the parts necessary to build the lathe was small enough that they could be produced on an affordable 3D printer within the budget of most robot hobbyists.
The lathe design was the result of contributions from many people, though Sublime added his own touches/improvements. The surprising thing for me was that it is definitely possible to bootstrap from a low-cost 3D printer to create other tools that most robot hobbyists want for their home workshops.
I'll be posting more about Sublime's work and the creation of the Tantillus 3D printer in subsequent videos.